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It’s Sun Awareness Week – And A Top Pharmacist Answers Your Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with pharmacist Kajal Ruda? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your fertility, pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert. 

This week, pharmacist Kajal Ruda was on hand to answer your questions.

Kajal Ruda is a qualified pharmacist with the All About Health programme, which promotes healthy living through independent pharmacies. During her seven years as a pharmacist she has become a clinical lead for healthcare issues relating to pain and vaccination services and is particularly interested in the areas of skin health, seasonal flu and flu vaccinations.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

Sun cream really irritates my 19-month-old son's skin to the point where he scratches a lot. I just tend to keep him out of the sun so he doesn't have to wear it but obviously that won't work forever. Can you suggest any that are very gentle?

Kajal: There are products designed for sensitive skin, please speak to your local pharmacist to find out more about the range available. To make sure that a particular product does not irritate your child's skin, always try to do a small patch test before going away and wait for two hours. If there is no reaction the product is less likely to cause any irritation.

I'm going on holiday to Florida with my four-year-old sun and wanted advice on sun care for darker skin. I've never really been sure what factor to use or whether the general advice applies for dark skin (Afro-Caribbean).

To make sure that a particular product does not irritate your child's skin, always try to do a small patch test before going away and wait for two hours

Kajal: People with darker skin have slightly better natural protection from the sun due to higher levels of natural sun protecting pigment called melanin in their skin. But you can still get sunburnt and are also at risk of skin cancer. Therefore, you should still use a minimum of SPF 15 sunscreen for adults and SPF30 for children when out in the sun especially in Florida, which is the sunshine state.

I've got a few sunspots on my hands and necks – or at least I think that's what they are! I've had them for years (I'm 38 now) after sunbathing too much when I was younger. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them?

Kajal: Unfortunately, there isn't any way of removing these kinds of spots but a it is important to keep an eye on the shape, size, colour and the changes in the border of the sunspots. If they do change, please consult your GP. To protect your skin from further sun damage I would recommend using a higher SPF sunscreen e.g. SPF 30 or above.

My husband's parents want us to visit them in Spain this summer once our baby has arrived (I'm eight months at the moment). But I'm worried about my newborn being in the heat/sun and it's hard to avoid the sun there. Do you think it's safe?

Kajal: If you decide to go out to Spain you should definitely err on the side of caution and aim to keep your bundle of joy out of direct sunlight and in the shade as much as possible. Make sure you keep his or her skin covered in loose, light clothes and take a sunhat along too. A parasol or sunshade for the pushchair is also a good idea. 

It’s definitely important to keep babies hydrated when it’s warm and there are things you can do to help with this. If you choose to breastfeed you won’t need to give extra water as well as milk but your baby might want to breastfeed more and it’s a good idea to encourage this. If you decide to bottle feed, you can give your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day as well as their usual milk feeds.

It’s definitely important to keep babies hydrated when it’s warm

As long as you’re sensible you should be fine but if you are still worried then why not have a chat to your in-laws about coming to visit you in the first few months or consider going out to Spain when your new arrival is a little older?

What happens if I burn my bump? I'm five months at the moment and had already booked a holiday abroad for July last year before I found out I was pregnant. Can I sit in a bikini or should I cover my bump up?

Kajal: Hello, with a new baby on the way a babymoon can be just what you need before all the running round involved in looking after a little one so enjoy yourself!

Having said that, it’s probably not wise to go overboard with the sunbathing when you’re pregnant as you may find you actually burn more easily and your skin can be more sensitive.

Make sure to wear sunscreen and reapply it regularly and definitely avoid burning your bump or anywhere else if you can.

It may also help to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when it’s hottest and limit the amount of time you spend sitting in the sun – as you want to avoid overheating and dehydration. Drink lots of water and other cooling drinks throughout the day and consider investing in a nice wide-brimmed hat and handheld fan to keep your temperature down.

Which high-protection sun creams won't irritate, or be too greasy for, toddlers with itchy, sensitive and eczema prone skin?

Kajal: There are lots of products available for children, some even come in sprays that are easy to put on. Always use the highest factor possible, at least SPF 30.

To make sure that a particular product does not irritate your child's skin, always try to do a small patch before going away and wait for two hours. If there is no reaction the product is less likely to cause any irritation. Mineral-based products like Nivea for children and Sunsense toddler milk, which have titanium dioxide may be soothing to the skin.

Is it safe to use sunscreen on my two-month-old baby or should I just keep him completely out of the sun until he's older?

Kajal: Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight as their skin doesn’t contain much melanin (the pigment that gives hair, eyes and skin their colour and gives us some protection from the sun).

For now it’s best to play it safe and use a parasol or sunshade on your little one’s pushchair, avoid direct sunshine, find a cute sunhat and stay in the shade when possible. 

When he gets a bit older, say from six months onwards, it’s still a good idea to try and avoid too much direct sunlight and encourage him to play in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm.

Apply a high factor sunscreen to his skin when you’re out and about in the summer months. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for kids with an SPF as high as 50 – pop into your local pharmacy when your baby is a bit older to see what they have to offer. They can also give you good advice on what might be suitable for your son’s skin.

What topics would you like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Club? Let us know in the comments box below.

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